China Clarifies Policy on Afghanistan
On 12 April 2023, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement clarifying the policy on Afghanistan led by the Taliban or the so called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. While claiming to provide autonomy to Afghanistan China has called for provision of rights to all including women, countering terrorism and drugs and advised the US to avoid geopolitics and provide humanitarian support to Afghanistan.
The statement underlined that China never interferes in internal affairs or seeks a sphere of influence while it is said to support, “moderate and prudent governance in Afghanistan. China sincerely hopes that Afghanistan could build an open and inclusive political structure, adopt moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies, and engage in friendly exchanges with all countries especially neighboring countries”.
“We hope the Afghan Interim Government will protect the basic rights and interests of all Afghan people, including women, children and all ethnic groups, and continue working actively to meet Afghan people’s interests and the international community’s expectations,” said the Statement.
China seeks to support peace and reconstruction of Afghanistan and “do its best to help Afghanistan with reconstruction and development, make plans with Afghanistan and fulfill its assistance pledges, promote steady progress in economic, trade and investment cooperation, and actively carry out cooperation in such fields as medical care, poverty alleviation, agriculture, and disaster prevention and mitigation, so as to help Afghanistan realize independent and sustainable development at an early date”.
“China welcomes Afghanistan’s participation in Belt and Road cooperation and supports Afghanistan’s integration into regional economic cooperation and connectivity that will transform Afghanistan from a “land-locked country” to a “land-linked country,” said the Statement.
On counter terrorism the threat from East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) was flagged indicated that it “is a terrorist organization listed by the UN Security Council and designated by the Chinese government in accordance with law. The ETIM forces in Afghanistan pose a severe threat to the security of China, Afghanistan and the region. China hopes that Afghanistan will fulfill its commitment in earnest and take more effective measures to crack down on all terrorist forces including the ETIM with greater determination, and earnestly ensure the safety and security of citizens, institutions and projects of China and other countries in Afghanistan”.
China is willing to work together with Afghanistan as the country most significantly “faces pronounced terrorism-related security issues.”
This is contrary to the Taliban which has been claiming that there is no terrorist threat to Afghanistan under its rule. The view apparently also matches with that of Pakistan which has been threatening to carry out raids in Afghanistan on terrorist sanctuaries in that country.
“Working together to fight terrorism, separatism and extremism in Afghanistan. Terrorism, separatism and extremism in Afghanistan remain a major security threat to the region and the world. China calls on the international community to firmly support Afghanistan’s fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism and its active measures to cut off the channels of terrorist financing, to counter recruitment and cross-border movement of terrorists and the spread of violent terrorist audio and video materials, to contain extremism, youth radicalization and the spread of terrorist ideologies, and to eliminate sleeper cells and terrorist safe havens,” said the Statement.
China also took a swab at the United States calling for a release of Afghan assets. “The US should draw lessons from what happened in Afghanistan, face squarely the grave humanitarian, economic and security risks and challenges in Afghanistan, immediately lift its sanctions, return the Afghan overseas assets, and deliver its pledged humanitarian aid to meet the emergency needs of the Afghan people,” said the statement. This comes against the reality that the US has remained the largest donor to the Taliban led Afghanistan.
China, “supports all plans and measures that are conducive to political settlement of the Afghan issue, and will actively engage in multilateral coordination through such mechanisms and platforms as the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the Afghan Issue among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)-Afghanistan Contact Group, the Moscow Format Consultations on Afghanistan, the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue, the Informal Meeting of China-Russia-Pakistan-Iran Foreign Ministers on Afghanistan, the Troika Plus Meeting and the United Nations, in an effort to build consensus and synergy for stability in and assistance to Afghanistan at regional and international levels,” said the Statement. Finally China has also highlighted the need for Afghanistan fighting narcotics.